Monday, July 2, 2012

Irma Vep


(Olivier Assayas / 1996)

I wish there was a way a wipe my memory and see this film without any idea of what cinephilia is, but such silly thoughts presuppose that things can exist outside the cultural soup that gives birth to such esoteric marvels as Irma Vep.

But there is something more than just allusions to cinema and hypnotic Feuillade reenactments. In fact, the world of cinephilia is a screen, like the world of bourgeois art and decor in Summer Hours or the post modern pop-politics in Carlos, that Assayas is burrowing into in order to provide the necessary scaffold to launch his investigation. Here, it is the subjectivity of male heterosexual desire that drives much (though not all) of the film. Consider the two directors who tackle the Les vampires remake, each with his own incomprehensible desire for a certain type of woman, a certain dress, a certain sequence of movements. Everything else is just the envelope with which to present their ideal object. Some believe this to be an ultimate philosophy of film, which I could totally get behind if so many of those espousing this gospel weren't so depressingly hetero-male.

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